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The Global Poker League officially kicked off its first season this week with three days of poker action. As glitches were worked out and improvements were made by the day – and sometimes by the hour – the GPL showed that it was serious about putting out an innovative and exciting product that left players and fans of the game wanting more.

The set-up started with two in-studio teams at the GPL offices in Malta. Laura Cornelius and Eric Danis of the GPL were the team of hosts who answered questions, speculated on upcoming action, recapped previous action, and reacted to social media. Then there was the duo of Griffin Benger and Sam Grafton, two professional poker players who served as the commentators for the games.

With an appropriate mix of serious analysis and humor, all four of them proved successful in managing the kinks of the first week and setting an ideal tone for the season.

The players, too, stepped up to the plate and handed over some solid poker, and some of them even made it quite entertaining to watch. Between the f-bombs of Cates in his heads-up matches against Grospellier and the intense action of the 6-max tournaments, it was a demonstration of all that the game can be. 

Let’s get to the recaps of the first three days of the GPL.

Day 1: Paris, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, and New York Players Dominate

The first day consisted of four 6-max tournaments, two from the Eurasia Conference and then two from the Americas Conference.

Davidi Kitai was the star of show for the Paris Aviators, finishing first in the first game and third in the second. And though Weiyi Zhang took fourth in the first game for the Hong Kong Stars, Raiden Kan won the second game for their team. Walter Treccarichi also did well for the Rome Emperors, finishing fifth but then taking second in the next game. On the other hand, it was a tough day for Daniel Cates of the Berlin Bears, as he exited in sixth place in both games for a total of zero points.

Jason Wheeler and Anthony Zinno were the stars of the Americas games, as Wheeler won the first game and finished third in the next for the New York Rounders. Zinno came in second for the Las Vegas Moneymakers in the first game but won the second to capture the most points of any players in this set of two games. And then there was Tony Gregg of the San Francisco Rush, who was pegged to be one of the top finishers but busted in sixth place both times for no points whatsoever.

Day 2: Stars Shine over Eurasia Heads-Up Action

The second day of play consisted of a player from each team in the Eurasia Conference participating in a heads-up match. Each match consisted of three games, and instead of playing best-two-of-three, all three games had to be played in order to garner as many points as possible for each team.

Match 1 pitted Randy “Nanonoko” Lew of the Hong Kong Stars against Sergey Lebedev of the Moscow Wolverines, and Lew ran away with the action. He took the first game rather quickly and leapt out to a significant lead in the second game with a big flush-over-flush. Lebedev tried to make a comeback but never got there in that or the second game. Lew was even down for a while in the third game but raged back and swept the match for all of the nine points going to the Stars.

Match 2 saw Daniel “Jungleman” Cates back in action for the Berlin Bears against Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier of the Paris Aviators. The match attracted more than 5K viewers on Twitch alone due to the notoriety of both players. Cates started strong in an effort to make up for the previous day, and he won the first game. But Grospellier responded with a quick full house-over-house in the second game to even the score. And the lengthy but entertaining third match saw Grospellier eventually take it down to capture six points for the Aviators, leaving only three for Cates and the Bears.

Match 3 was a much less talkative match but showed off some solid poker as Timothy Adams and the Rome Emperors took on Justin Bonomo for the London Royals. Bonomo quickly took control of the first game and took the first win, but Adams did the same in the second game for a win. Adams looked strong for the third game as well, but Bonomo doubled several times to mount a comeback that gave him another victory and six points for the Royals. The Emperors finished with three points.

Day 3: Rounders, Rush, and Mets Win for Americas

The third and final day of the first week focused on the Americas Conference. The heads-up matches took on the same format as the previous day.

Match 1 put up Olivier Busquet for the LA Sunset against Darren Elias on behalf of the Sao Paulo Metropolitans. Busquet sailed all the way to a win in the first game despite Elias doubling up his short stack in a comeback effort. Busquet tried to repeat in the second game, and he did it in nearly the same fashion. By the third game, Elias made a slow but steady effort and chipped up all the way to the winner’s circle to claim three points for the Mets, leaving the other six points for the Sunset.

Match 2 found the battle of the Swedes, with Martin Jacobson of the Montreal Nationals versus Anton Wigg of the San Francisco Rush. Wigg took an immediate lead in the first game and sailed to victory. The second game started but ended quickly when a sixth card hit the board. Hilarity ensued. The game was stopped to figure out the glitch, at which time the players decided to simply start the game over. When they did, Wigg continued his dominance and captured a second victory. The third game was a very long one, consisting of much back-and-forth play until Jacobson pulled out a win, taking three points for the Nationals but leaving six for the Rush.


Match 3 started with Marchese leaping to the lead and hitting runner-runner for a straight to win the first game. Zinno tried to ease into the lead in the next game, but Marchese doubled up twice and headed to victory from there. The third game was an epic match, one that was entertaining and quite interesting. One pot was a massive one that found Marchese tanking and shoving, which finally prompted a fold from Zinno so Marchese could show the bluff. Both players were having a great time, but Zinno came back and grabbed a win to prevent a sweep. Zinno took three points for the Moneymakers, but Marchese collected six for the Rounders.

Week 1 Final Standings

Eurasia Conference: 

Hong Kong Stars: 18 points

Paris Aviators: 16 points

London Royals: 12 points

Rome Emperors: 9 points

Moscow Wolverines: 5 points

Berlin Bears: 3 points

Americas Conference:  

New York Rounders: 16 points

Las Vegas Moneymakers: 13 points

Montreal Nationals: 12 points

LA Sunset: 9 points

Sao Paulo Metropolitans: 7 points

San Francisco Rush: 6 points

Stay tuned to for more coverage of the 2016 Global Poker League!

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.